There might be more going on than just candle-lighting this Hanukkah. Shmaltz Brewing Company, a Clifton Park-based brewery that has made a name for itself with its delicious, Jewish-themed craft beers, has brewed up a brand new recipe for its popular seasonal Hanukkah ale, which this year the brewer’s calling “Chanukah, Hanukkah: Pass The Beer.” In honor of the eight nights of the Jewish Festival of Lights, the dark ale will consist of eight hops and eight malts and have an ABV of eight percent.
“This year I’m really excited about it,” says Jeremy Cowan, owner of Shmaltz Brewing Company. “I’ve been enjoying it just at home with dinner, which is always a treat when you really like something you’ve made for the public.” The local brewery used a complex array of dark malts to create this year’s chocolatey, triple brown Hanukkah ale. “It’s inspired by the gelt, the milk chocolate gold coins used during Hanukkah,” says Cowan. “We brought out flavors that are a little bit sweeter for this one—molasses, dark fruits—but with a pretty pronounced blast of roasted, almost baker’s chocolate and a blend of hoppiness, too.”
Founded in 1996 in Cowan’s hometown of San Francisco, Shmaltz has come a long way since its humble beginnings when Cowan was making beer deliveries from the back of his grandmother’s Volvo. Over the last two years, especially, the local craft brewer seems to be blowing up in popularity. In 2018, Shmaltz signed a national sales and marketing partnership with Artisanal Imports, which distributes for revered brewers such as Bosteels and La Trappe, and that same year the company also opened 518 Craft, a new Shmaltz craft bar in downtown Troy. “I’m really excited that I get to ship this beer around the country,” says Cowan, who’s locally brewed creations are being sold as far away as California. “We’re thrilled that the tasting room in Troy is doing so well, too.”
Speaking of that tasting room, 518 Craft is currently offering three to four different variations of previous years’ Hanukkah beers that have been barrel-aged. This year’s signature brew, “Chanukah, Hanukkah: Pass The Beer,” is also available at 518 Craft, as well as in the Spa City at the Henry Street Tap Room and local Price Choppers and Minogue’s Beverage Centers.
As for a planned Shmaltz tasting room that was slated to open this past January, where the Newberry Music Hall used to be in Saratoga, Cowan says that he’s still in the negotiation phase on that project. “I would really like to see that come to life,” he says. “Fingers crossed for 2020.”